Eldridge plans to play two positions with two sets of shoulder pads
September, 1, 2009
By Tim Griffin | ESPN.com
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Brody Eldridge will be taking two of everything to Oklahoma's season opener against BYU.
He'll be taking two jerseys and two different sets of shoulder pads to prepare for the challenge of potentially playing center and tight end in the same game.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said he plans to use Eldridge in the starting lineup at center, where he has played for the past several weeks. Eldridge has filled in for projected starter Ben Habern, who has been hobbled with an inflamed back but could be ready to play Saturday night.
"We’ll have two sets of pads for him with a jersey attached to each,” Stoops told reporters Monday. "If we want to put him at tight end, and work some other guys, he can do that.”
When the 6-foot-5, 265-pound Eldridge plays center, he will wear No. 50. But when he moves to tight end, he will switch to No. 83, where he can be considered an eligible receiver.
"As I've said for the last two years, Brody is one of our best players," Stoops said. "By doing this, it allows him to be on the field more."
Eldridge, who came to the Oklahoma program as a lightly recruited defensive end, has developed into a valuable tool akin to the Sooners' "Swiss Army Knife" because of his ability to thrive at multiple positions. He has played fullback, H-back and tight end since moving to offense.
"I'm willing to help the team out any way that I can," Eldridge said earlier in training camp. "It doesn't matter what position I'm at. I'll try to help wherever they need me."
Pound for pound, Eldridge is considered to be one of the Big 12's top blockers. But it will be interesting to see how he will match up against larger defensive tackles because of size.
His original matchup against BYU's starting team shouldn't be one of a great mismatch as he will be pitted against 6-foot-3, 266-pouund senior Russell Tialavea. But BYU's two backups behind Tialavea are bulkier -- 6-1, 309-pound senior Tevita Hola and 6-foot-1, 295-pound sophomore Romney Fuga.
Jarvis Jones has already moved from right tackle to right guard, where he is listed as a starter on the Sooners' season-opening roster. And Habern could see some snaps at guard as well, Stoops said.
The Sooners are fostering the interchangability on the offensive line because Stoops isn't satisfied with their numbers.
"We've done this to give ourselves more depth," Stoops said. "Our numbers aren't what they need to be. We need more offensive linemen, numbers wise. But if you have a center who can play guard, or a tackle than play guard, it creates competition and depth. And that's a good thing."